Andre Wright | Don't allow Cokes to whitewash bloody history
Camille 'Sandy' Coke's feeble attempt to portray her family as misunderstood and maligned would be laughable were it not so deathly serious.
In yesterday's Gleaner, she served up a sob story about being rounded up by the security forces in 2010 and languishing behind bars, baffled "because I did not even know why or what I was arrested for". My lachrymal glands were not stimulated, but my bowels definitely moved.
Jamaicans should reject modern-day Sermons on the Mount. Jamaicans must not fall for the bleaching of the bloodstains of history of the Tivoli clan that memorialised murder, extortion and thuggery as the core tenets of the family business. Jamaicans must not allow the Cokes to be whitewashed as victims of circumstance beyond their power and influence. That farce must not stand.
Ms Coke would like the Jamaican people to come to a gospel concert, sing kumbayas, speak in tongues, bawl 'living eyewater' and hold hands in solidarity.
But before there is any hand-holding, the public must listen for the last gasp of a teenager who was tied to a utility pole and transformed into a bloody sieve by bullets. The public must listen for the blood-curdling screams of District Constable Kevin Paul Bartley, whose body was found in a shallow grave post-incursion. The public must listen for the heaving breath of shot-up Inspector Lascelles Walsh as he lay on the street like a dog.
Of course, Ms Coke is just a businesswoman minding her business. Her brother, Christopher 'Dudus' Coke, was also merely a businessman. Her brother, Leighton 'Livity' Coke, doubtless, is a businessman, too.
However, the Tivoli mafia, including its long line of Coke corpses, from godfather 'Jim Brown' to 'Jah T' and 'Chris Royal', has been at the root of urban violence in Jamaica for more than 30 years, capturing sections of city Kingston as part of a fiefdom and extracting patronage from vendors and merchants in the downtown business district.
Jamaica's hands-off police, over the last three decades, were co-conspirators in the calcification of criminality in the capital, Kingston, and provided cover for extortion and vigilantism to become constitutional rights and rites of a parallel empire. Then they co-manufactured the amassing of forces and barriers in Tivoli Gardens - they could have busted up the initial blockading but chose not to - because it gave them the opportunity to do what the Jamaican police do best - launch a scorched-earth, mass-muscle, ratatata demolition.
The police are as much to blame for the rise of Dudus as the politicians who turned taxpayer funds into blood money and who should be condemned for the enablement of domestic terrorism. Up to the near-apocalyptic bloodbath in Tivoli in May 2010, Christopher Coke was a model citizen - not facing one charge locally. Dudus, after all, was only a businessman and contractor. And if we follow Sandy, he could soon be bishop of Coke Methodist Church.
I make no pronouncement on Sandy Coke's reputed conversion. And frankly, I don't really care about her Damascus Road rebirth.
But since she now claims to be a prayer warrior, perhaps she might appeal to God to stir the hearts of the Cokes to declare any knowledge of the inner workings of Dudus' and Jim Brown's criminal machinery, Presidential Click and the Shower Posse.
Sandy Coke should confess the alleged sins of the Coke clan, if she's aware of any, or tell us whether the iron-fisted grip of badmen corralling western Kingston and the professionalisation of predation was myth and lore. That's what we want to hear.
- Andre Wright is opinion editor of The Gleaner. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.